How important would you say your memory is when it comes to your career or business?
Let me elaborate. I'm not just talking about your ability to remember facts or where you put your keys. I'm talking about your ability to absorb knowledge deep into your bones, to learn new skills in a way that sticks, so when you use them, it's second nature.
When you think about memory in this sense, how important would you say it is in your career or business?
Rate it on a scale of 1 - 10.
note: 1 is not at all and 10 is critical
What's your number?
If you're a 7 or above read on...
When asked, most people will say they want a better memory, however, day to day, memory doesn't rate that high in terms of what people consider important. It becomes more of an imperative when you stop feeling sharp or at times when you hit a learning curve; a new job, skilling-up, stepping into an entirely new domain, re-training or going back to study as a mature student. All of these give you compelling reasons to find a more effective way to learn and remember.
Here's the challenge though, if you seriously want a better memory you have to put the work in and that can feel like just one more thing to do. However, by rewiring the importance of memory in your life, you can reduce the stress associated with learning and set yourself up for success in your career and business.
To do this, first figure out your memory persona, this is a great starting point.
More and more I end up working with people who are looking to create a significant change in their life. With each change usually comes the challenge of learning something new, improving a skill or stepping into an area that is unknown.
Over the years I've seen people I've worked with fall into 5 very distinct personas. Each persona has their own set of outcomes. Check to see which one of these most resonates with you?
High achievers are looking to fast track their careers, making significant progress in the shortest time possible, whether that’s within a small business or as part of a big corporate.
Here's the thing though, High Achiever's, don't always see themselves in this way ie. they don't actually feel like they are achieving and are usually putting a huge amount of pressure on themselves that causes stress and anxiety.
Right now you’re most likely wanting to take a step up, get promoted or are looking for opportunities in a similar role elsewhere.
To set yourself up for success, you need to skill up to secure your next promotion or role (think developer, designer, product manager, project manager, marketing manager, sales person etc.).
One of the key ingredients in having a robust memory is being able to get into a state of flow. You already know what this feel like; no stress, in the moment, not beating yourself up and often playful and excited. In this state, you can get things done, be more productive and your natural memory will perform at its best.
For the high achiever giving conscious attention to being in this state can really pay-off.
Get into the state of flow:
Movers and Shakers are generally in that more restless phase of life. They're looking to make a big shift, find their real purpose and live a life they can get excited about. Many times they have worked in the corporate world and want to either make a move to a completely different career or set up their own small business.
Let's face it, there's only so many hours in the day, one of the biggest challenges they face is being able to context switch, to move from day job to family to their thing of passion. If they don't have an effective strategy to context switch and re-focus on the task at hand, everything feels harder.
You’ve probably begun growing your skills in the area that interests you and have perhaps signed up to part-time study. So in between working a full day’s work and spending time with the family you're trying to figure out how you cram in the 5-10 hours of learning required every week to become a nutritionist, a coach, a pilates instructor, a lawyer!
Having been an actor throughout the 90s and noughties I learned how to very rapidly get myself in positive and negative states, if you can't do this, there's no way you can do 8 shows a week and make each one feel fresh, not just for the audience but for yourself.
If you have ever studied as an actor, participated in a Tony Robbins event in the last 30 years or followed Amy Cudy's power posing (or postural feedback as it's now called) over the last 8 years, you will realise the power of changing your physiology. Stanislavski called it the psychological gesture, it's a physical move that gets you into instantly into character.
Practice the context switch
The Entrepreneur craves knowledge and wants to be at the top of their game. They are all about productivity, domain knowledge and growth, they're looking for that competitive edge. They tend to invest in themselves and have a broad range of skills, a wide range of interests and have a passion for their domain. Their level of interest already puts them in an outstanding state to learn.
One of the many challenges the Entrepreneur faces when it comes to memory is the sheer amount of information they need to keep on top of. While this won't phase them, they're never one to turn down something that works and they are usually more than willing to put in the effort.
You already run your own business, you’re inspired by the likes of Elon Musk and Bill Gates who make learning a priority and it’s the same for you, however, productivity is paramount and you want to be seen as an expert in your field who is on the top of your game.
As an Entrepreneur, you're probably looking at how you can fit anything new into your current routines and build skills in a way that integrates tightly with what you already do. Therefore you need to set up a nice mix of building the skill of a supercharged memory while seeing the benefits very early on, taking a fail fast, learn early approach.
Create the right Memory Habits
Life-long learners have a natural passion for learning, more than that it's always high on their priority. Life-long learners often cross over with some of the other personas (High Achievers, Movers & Shakers and Entrepreneurs). They want to keep brain fit and have a healthy memory.
Life-long learners generally love learning, but like most of us they don't always recognise how good their memories actually are, so they can beat themselves up about this, epsecially as they get older.
You get excited about learning new things and for the most part, you enjoy it. There is usually something big you're about to embark on or are right in the middle of, a new language, a skill or the next book. You maybe don't feel as sharp as you used to and you're looking for ways to improve.
Have you ever noticed how people with healthy memories talk about their memory, we've all done it right? How bad it is, how it lets us down, how it doesn't work when we need it. By becoming aware of how you talk to yourself when it comes to your memory, you can make some big shifts. Jo, a client of mine was a great example of this when she took the California Bar Exam
Care for your memory
Finally, we have The Student, whether you are in your 20s or a mature student in your 30s, 40s, 50s or 60s when you're in a formal learning environment, there is a certain amount of pressure as you are ultimately building up to taking an exam.
One of the biggest challenges is finding the best strategies to help in that goal, there's so much to learn!
You're in your 20s at university and are looking for the fastest most effective ways to learn and memorise. Or you're a mature student in your 30s - 60s and you've come to the decision that it's now time to do that Philosophy degree, you've been out of formal learning for years, so this can be scary!
Whatever your persona, building a toolbox of strategies to supercharge your memory and your career is essential. As I mentioned in my last blog, Memory is a skill and like any skill, you have to put in the effort to get good at it.
Build some memory power
Whichever persona fits you best, while the outcomes are different the secret ingredients for each can be mixed together to form a great memory recipe:
With a supercharged memory, you'll see increases in confidence and performance. While memory is only one part of who you are, it's a fairly significant part, so by prioritising it in your life, it can genuinely be the secret sauce that gives you an edge in your career or business.
Thanks for signing up to the Memory Talk Newsletter. To say thanks I'm including my Memory Blueprint PDF download. There's 17 cutting edge strategies to improve memory, focus and productivity. Enjoy!